Tuesday, August 27, 2002

SMALL EARTHQUAKE IN WEST YORKSHIRE - NO CUSTOMERS HURT: Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the Leeds microriot, the Yorkshire Post is leading with 'Never again' demand after pop mob goes on rampage; it's certain that the Mean Fiddler are going to have their work cut out to persuade the council to allow them to set up camp there next year. Not that the MF seems to believe that, from what they tell the Post:
Festival organiser Mean Fiddler remained defiant last night though, saying it would not let a mindless minority stop the festival from going ahead next year.
Well, for a start, the licensing authority won't take kindly to being called a mindless minority. Stoppit, I'm killing meself. Seriously, strap yourself in for some serious point avoidance. Firstly, the problem is not with the five hundred rioters so much as the thousands of people who didn't want Temple Newsham to be given over the event this time. They'd warned of dire events, and, sadly, been proved right. If the best the MF can come up with is "We can't let those rioters spoil it for the others", they'd might as well not bother applying for a licence next year - it's rock as a whole that is unwelcome in the park; riots are just an example of the sort of things the Cassandras of West Yorkshire fear.
A spokeswoman said: "No festival-goers were injured. Police and security attended, contained and dealt with the situation."
'Well, none of our customers were injured" is hardly going to help counter the Police press release which reports 'determined, sustained and mindless' violence and the injury of a policeman. (Although, actually, can an act be simultaneously determined and mindless?)
"She added: "The action of under one per cent of the crowd should not be allowed to detract from a very successful weekend."
But, you see, while Guns & Roses may have played wonderfully and the sale of burgers and pop might have been good, people setting fire to toilets and hurling missiles at police does have a bit of a nasty habit of taking the sheen off events, especially as far as residents of an area would see things. The people of Leeds, as far as I know, weren't writing letters to the Post saying "I am concerned about the holding of a festival at Temple Newsham - are we really to believe an act as young as The Strokes justifies their position as a headline act?"
"We will strive to make the festival better next year. The Leeds Festival will have a very long and successful future."
"Only one per cent of people rioted" isn't a justification, or an explanation; it isn't even an apology. The Mean Fiddler have a lot more explaining to do if the predicition of a long and successful future is going to come true. So far, it's not much in the way of bridge building with the community, who might reasonably view "only one percent" of a crowd of 50,000 as a few too many people to have setting fire to buildings in their neighbourhood.

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